As the central science, Chemistry at AS and A-level is an ideal companion for either (or both) of the other sciences.
It can also be taken to complement subjects such as Mathematics, French, German, English, History, Geography, etc. It is required for higher study in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Polymer Science, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry, Forensic Science, Food Science, Pharmacy, Chemical Engineering, and Genetics. It is very useful towards further study in Earth Science, Metallurgy, Materials Science, Horticulture, Forestry, Agriculture, Environmental Science, Electronics, and other areas.
In addition, success in Chemistry demonstrates to admissions tutors and potential employers that you have a rigorous yet flexible approach to learning and that you are likely to be intellectually astute with an enquiring and logical frame of mind. In an increasingly competitive world, success at A-level Chemistry is a very strong indicator of future potential.
A-level Chemistry develops concepts you have encountered at GCSE so that you can describe not only what happens during chemical reactions, but also why these chemical changes occur, how far they will proceed and how fast they will produce the required products. It involves study of the three major branches of the subject: organic, inorganic and physical chemistry. Organic chemistry (the chemistry of carbon compounds) is an area you have only briefly met at GCSE. You will have the opportunity to carry out a wide range of practical work during the course and a range of practical skills will be assessed internally.
The AS course covers topics such as atomic structure, bonding, trends in the Periodic Table, with more detailed study of Groups 2 and 7, and an introduction to redox chemistry. It includes study of the qualitative features of energetics, kinetics and equilibria. It also provides a comprehensive basis to the study of organic chemistry, including some reaction mechanisms and the modern analytical techniques of mass spectrometry and infrared spectroscopy. Green chemistry is examined at this level, including hazard and pollution reduction and efficiency increase in the chemical industry.
The A-level course takes the topics met at AS further and adds quantitative aspects to them. A study of transition metals and redox equilibria is made and the knowledge of organic reactions is applied to synthesis. The study of modern analytical techniques is extended to high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, ultraviolet spectroscopy, gas chromatography and high performance liquid chromatography. The applications of these techniques in the pharmaceutical industry are considered.
Overall, chemistry at this level will provide you with an interesting and challenging course in an area of science which affects us all. You will have the opportunity to enhance your study by attending lectures by eminent scientists and by taking part in competitions such as the Cambridge Chemistry challenge, the Chemistry Olympiad and those organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
You will be encouraged to extend your knowledge with background reading, research for presentations and to apply for SATRO club Extended Research Placements to undertake a short research project during the Lower Sixth summer.
The Edexcel syllabus is followed. AS can be completed in one year and comprises three units, the third unit being practical assessment. A-level includes the AS units and three additional units, the third of these being further internal assessment of practical work.
Throughout, A-level Chemistry is far more quantitative than at GCSE and you must have an adequate mathematical background from which to develop the required skills. It is expected that you will have attained grade A*or A in Chemistry at GCSE or at least grade AA in the Double Award Science course.